Tag Archives: easy

Favorite Ways to Save Kitchen Bucks

So there are really only a handful of ways you can make real food work in a kitchen:

  1. Save money by making a lot of it from scratch, but it will cost you time
  2. Save time by buying real-food shortcuts, but it will cost you money
  3. Somewhere in-between the first two options, using both as you can (this is me, although I tend towards option #1)

I recognize this can feel daunting. And as someone who’s been at this for Y-E-A-R-S there are seasons in life – due to schedules, motivation, health, etc… that sometimes, this real-food-thing doesn’t seem possible, effective, profitable.

I am not above vacillating. We’ll go backwards. I’ll allow just enough cheats and junk in the house… and y’all, we FEEL it. Colds we can’t kick. Digestive issues that are awful. And of course, hormonal imbalances and weight gain. So while I, just like the rest of this planet, falls into it… I’m here to say a) give yourself some grace and forgiveness (and let’s not forget this is not about rules, y’all! So when there’s freedom from rules…) and b) encourage you and give you a few tools in the toolbelt.

Because sometimes, this wavering is because of money and schedules and not just laziness. (Disclaimer: sometimes mine is just laziness, so no judgment here.) You’re not sure how you can get this done and it just feels better to cheat. And cheat frequently. There are some basic skills that I feel keep me away from full-out junk diets AND still save money and don’t cost an exorbitant amount of time.

So…. If you’re wanting some easy ways to cut your costs in your kitchen and still get nutritious food in, here’s some suggestions….

Easiest ways (assuming you own a VERY basic slow cooker):

Cook your own beans. Buy them dried, and let them soak/cook in a slow cooker. After they’ve cooked and cooled, I freeze them in tupperware to thaw as needed.  I recommend this method as shared by fellow blogger and as I discussed in my recipe for Cajun beans ‘n’ rice.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

Oatmeal. Soak it and then cook in your slow cooker.  I detail my method over in my recipe for Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal… I wrote up how to do it for plain oatmeal, and then tacked on how I made it with pumpkin (which is really just added flavor at the end).  I usually make a huge batch, then once it’s cooled, keep in the refrigerator to reheat throughout the week. It’s super cheap and easy, filling food in the mornings. I don’t do pumpkin all the time (maybe only a 1/10th of a time?). Mostly, it’s just cinnamon + sweetener because that’s cheapest and easiest.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

Make your own broth. Of all my slow cooker methods, this is my favorite. Because most people just throw away chicken skin and bones and vegetable peelings… and this is using something you would ordinarily throw out! It’s like better than free! Haha. Shaye at The Elliott Homestead explains it best! I use this method ALL the time. I haven’t bought broth in probably over five years.

Make granola. Okay, so this obviously does not require a slow cooker, but an oven at minimum.  It’s easiest, though with a dehydrator (but please, oh please, don’t let that deter you!).  Method and recipe can be found here.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

If you have more time and/or right tools:

Make bread. I used to do this EVERY week. I now do this not out of obligation but for fun, and we buy our bread. This is a prime example of choosing to spend more money on something so that’s healthy so I don’t have to spend my time on it.  There’s loads and loads of great recipes out there, but due to my own gut/dietary needs, I rely heavily on Jovial Foods Einkorn Cookbook (check it out here… I raved about it in this post… and I still can’t say enough about it.)  It can be SUCH a rewarding experience, and there’s no taste or texture comparable purchased in the store.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

Make yogurt. This feels like a science experiment or chemistry lab every time.  It’s a pretty fascinating experience learning about how bacteria grows (or doesn’t).  I learned a great deal from The Prairie Homestead here.  I use a dehydrator, now, for this – but you can do without it. It does take some time and patience… BUT WILL SAVE YOU GOBS.

Make your own bars. Granola, larabars, fruit-n-nut, etc. I will confess I’m still learning this… in that I haven’t done as many.  Granted, it’s still cheaper to buy generic store brand granola bars… but don’t look at the ingredient list if you do. If you do, and want a cleaner option… then you’ll likely end up with an option that is closer to $1 (if not over) each.  I’ve collected quite a few recipes at my pinterest board here.  My current favorite are these blueberry bliss bars.  YUMMO.

Make waffles. This is no surprise to you, right? I’ve raved about waffles and the Einkorn recipe posted here is a top sought post. It obviously requires a waffle iron (special tool)… but you can get them inexpensively.  I usually double (sometimes triple!) the recipe and freeze 7-10 in bags so I can pull them out as needed, akin to the waffles you can buy at the store. I promise… THIS SAVES MONEY. Serious money.

Saving Kitchen Bucks - Foodies Gone Real

There are other options, too, for overall savings.

Overall stewardship of resources can make money spent in the kitchen possible, too.  (More info on that concept here.)  Here’s some other ways I save money:

Swagbucks. I earn swagbucks points on Swagbucks that converts into gift cards, which in turn gets used mostly for Christmas shopping.  Check it out here. I combine those gift cards with Black Friday savings (and other deals around that time of year) and make out like a bandit. No joke. With swagbucks and deal-hunting, the net worth of those gifts is often quadruple the amount of money I actually spent. I do not lie, I can show you the spreadsheets for proof! :)

Cleaning Supplies. I buy very, very little cleaning supplies. I have managed this between baking soda, vinegar, and Norwex.  Norwex products are mostly cloth-based and you combine them with water, clean whatever it is that needs it… and done. Yes, that simple. You wash the cloth and do it all over again. I use Norwex for dusting, wood, glass, toilet bowl, make-up removing, floors, just to name a few. Those are all areas of my home I’m not longer spending money on products that get consumed and I have to repurchase.  This isn’t even touching on the issue that there’s no chemicals and you don’t have to worry about toxicity.  Check out Norwex here.

Laundry Detergent.  I make my own … recipe forthcoming.  It’s a basic combination of washing soda, borax, dye-free oxiclean, bar soap (that’s been shredded).  There are loads of other options online.  I still buy some detergent, too… because we only have so much time. Sometimes, I need to buy it because I just don’t have time to make it and I’m running low.  However, it’s much cheaper to make it than buy a clean/green detergent… so it’s back to that basic choice of money versus time.

Reusable Bags for Snacks & Sandwiches.  I love, love, love these things.  They save money on the plastic bags, I’m no longer buying a consumable. I’m not contributing to the plastic-consumer-driven economy, either. They wash well with dishsoap.

 

So….

What do you do? How do you balance your time and money?

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISCLOSURE: There may be affiliate links within this post. I never recommend anything arbitrarily and receive small financial benefit. If I choose to recommend something, it’s of my own free will and volition and MORE because I think you’ll benefit from hearing about it more than me gaining the $$. 

A Sloppy Joe.

I’m not going to go into alot of background on this dish.  I think it’s self-explanatory:

a) We need cheap meals

b) We need healthy meals

c) We need food of which I can cook a bunch, and then husband, who has an insanely high caloric need, can reheat at will

Meat the Sloppy Joe meat.

We eat it lots of ways, in a house with a mouse, in a box with a fox…. no just kidding.  We eat it on bread, without bread, on potatoes, on french fries.  It’s wonderful.

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So! Let’s make it, shall we?

TOOLS:

  • I like a heavy-bottomed dutch oven. You could do a large capacity/deep skillet.
  • Spoon
  • Knife
  • Cutting board

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 fresh tomato
  • 1tbl garlic
  • 1tbl paprika
  • 1tbl chili powder
  • 3tbl sucanat, maple syrup, honey or whatever sweetener of choice
  • 1 7oz jar of tomato paste + 1 jar of water (*or, you can do 2c of unflavored tomato sauce/puree)
  • Salt and Pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Start browning that beef.  And there’s a reason we’re doing it first!

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(ooops! When I was photographing I accidentally did the veggies first. You should do the meat first so you have the leftover fat to saute!)

While beef is browning, chop up your veggies.  I recommend cutting them up as fine as possible.  If you have a food processor, this would be an excellent job for it.

Once ground beef is cooked mostly through (a little pink is okay because you’re going to cook it again) – with a slootted spoon, scoop out your beef.  LEAVE THE GREASE.  Please don’t touch that nutritious grass-fed goodness that gives flavor and healthy fats.

Throw in the chopped onion and green pepper. Cook until onions start to become translucent and peppers are soft and start losing their color.

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Now add the ground beef, tomatoes, spiced and stir it up.

Next add your tomato paste/sauce (whichever you’re going with. I usually just use whichever I already have).

Now.  You let this simmer on a very low boil for 30 minutes.  You can do it for less if you’re in a hurry, and it will still taste good.  But it tastes GREAT if you let it stew for awhile.  The tomatoes will pretty much dissolve.  Just a few remnant tomato skins, but otherwise totally stewed together.

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Now that it’s all done cooking… slop that joe on something good.  Or just put it in a bowl and eat it.  Yes, we’re not beyond that in this house.  It’s really so good… it doesn’t need anything else but a spoon.

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Featured here over a sweet potato. :)

Enjoy!

Balsamic Roasted Sunflower Seeds

This is so simple, and I discovered this without really being intentional.

I got a CRAZY good deal on raw, hulled, unroasted sunflower seeds from Wholeshare (check it out here, all my fellow peeps in New York!).  I was throwing them on salads, eating them occasionally just as they were, but they were still sitting there.  Consuming space in my cupboard.

So, I laid them out on the pizza stone.

Drizzled with olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  Dusted with garlic and salt.

Balsamic Roasted Sunflower Seeds - Foodies Gone Real

I roasted them at 400* for 10 minutes.

Balsamic Roasted Sunflower Seeds - Foodies Gone Real

I pulled them out, gave them a stir then roasted for another 5 minutes.

Balsamic Roasted Sunflower Seeds - Foodies Gone Real

Oh YUUUUM.  Talk about queching a salt craving!  Enjoy as we have!

Salmon Teriyaki Recipe Review: from “Paleo Takeout”

If you ever followed my meal plans or facebook page, you notice that I often link up to recipes from the blog, The Domestic Man. Just IMAGINE my foodie-fan-pysch when Russ Crandall, the mastermind behind this intelligent blog, asked for volunteers to test out new recipes for his yet-unreleased cookbook. I was geeking out!

I signed up for his facebook book group and got to pick which recipe: I picked Salmon Teriyaki.

Salmon Teriyaki Recipe Review - Foodies Gone Real

First off: the sauce was SO EASY to make.  I’m not afraid of a little work, though, but love it when I can find something that will be easy to throw together when I’m short on time.  I imagine this sauce will be phenomenal with just about any other meat with which you pair it.

More important than ease of preparation was the flavor.  I’m not exaggerating when I say I could just eat the sauce by the spoonful.  (And let’s be real, here: I did! Afterall, I’m a tester, so I’ve got to test the sauce a FEW times in order to give proper feedback, right?!)

Salmon Teriyaki Recipe Review - Foodies Gone Real

Next note of appreciation: that he prescribed three different ways to cook the salmon.  I consider myself a pretty accomplished cook, but had no idea about these other ways to cook salmon! (Maybe I’m not so accomplished with seafood. ;-) ) I chose pan fried, and his instructions worked like a charm.

While all this goodness was going on, I also made my signature recipe of fried rice and boiled some broccoli.

Salmon Teriyaki Recipe Review - Foodies Gone Real

This was outstanding, and the recipe made enough that I now have some to store away in my freezer (for more easy cooking nights!).  If the goal is to make these foods as a) easy as takout and b) tasty as takeout and c) healthy and not damaging to my body, then SUCCESS!  There are loads of other recipes in the cookbook (not just asian!) so I look forward to reading more!

Wondering how you can get your hands on the recipe?  Well, the book isn’t released yet! So put it on your wishlist, preorder it on Amazon, do something to get your hands on this cookbook!  This book is D-E-F-I-N-I-T-E-L-Y going on my wishlist!

If you are wanting to try more of Russ’ recipes before the cookbook release, check out some of the following recipes that I can personally recommend (because we make and enjoy them regularly in this house!)

Salisbury Steak (ate it just last week!)

Chic-Fil-A copycat nuggets

Eye of Round Roast

Tilapia Taco Salad

Chicken Tikka Masala

In no way was I compensated for my time or positive review of this recipe, blog, or “Paleo Takeout”. This is me just being a crazy fan of a fellow foodie!

The Chicken Dance and Wings

The moment I start talking about chickens, my girls are breaking out to their own version of the chicken dance (which is some combination of “chicka-chicka-brawk-brawk” and whatever funky chicken dance moves they imagine).  I think I sort of created this animal by introducing them to the polka chicken dance. (what do you want?! I’m from Texan-German descent! This is just what we do at weddings! I’m sorry!)

So I was mumbling under my breath about this recipe and of course now I’m surrounded by some pretty funky chickens.  ;-)

At any rate – this is what I REALLY wanted to write, in regards to chicken:

There are some foods that I admittedly really, really, really miss after cleaning up my diet.

Chicken wings weren’t one of them.

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These wings made me wonder why I’ve never been a “wings” fan. These are twice-coated BBQ wings, baked. (You can make them THREE times dipped! Instructions are below!) You could definitely fry them up (I’d highly recommend pastured tallow or lard) instead of baking, but I haven’t tried it (yet). If you do, please come back and let me know how it worked!

Someday, I’ll perfect a good, clean, nutrient-dense pizza, and make these wings, and have a guilt-free pizza and wings night. Until then – these shall do!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Chicken wings
  • Favorite BBQ sauce, separated
  • Coconut flour
  • Fat of choice (coconut oil, grass-fed butter, or pastured lard/tallow – in a liquid state)

*Note: I didn’t list any amounts.  This is because it’s largely an “eyeball” type of recipe, and is going to change depending on the consistency of your favorite BBQ sauce.

TOOLS:

  • Foil/parchment lined baking sheet
  • shallow dish for dredging (I use a plate that has a high rim! Tupperware, pie plate, casserole dish… anything will do!)
  • 2 bowls for BBQ sauce

DIRECTIONS:

Marinate your chicken wings for at least 30 minutes.  Feel free to do this overnight/all day (what I often do: start it marinating first thing in the morning, then come back to it when I’m ready to cook). Please note: you are going to need MORE BBQ sauce to coat the wings right before serving, so don’t use it all up on the marinating!

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Preheat your oven to 425*.

Coat your lined baking sheet with fat of choice.  These wings REALLY like to stick to the cooking sheet.

Remove the wings from the marinade, letting the excess drip off (don’t go crazy here, just do your best).

Dredge your marinated wings in the coconut flour. You may need to add more flour as coconut flour is quick to absorb into liquid.

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Pat some more coconut flour on the wings as needed – if it looks like the sauce has absorbed all the flour, go ahead and add more.

Spread these wings out on the cookie sheet – at least 1 inch apart.  Crowding makes it so that they won’t cook through/evenly.

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Now spoon some more sauce over these wings.

Cook for 20 minutes at 425*, turning halfway.  After you’ve flipped them at the halfway point, spoon more BBQ sauce on the other side of the wings.

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If you’re feeling really saucy, you can go for a THIRD coat after 20 minutes of cooking — let the wings cool slightly, then coat the wings in another batch of your favorite BBQ sauce.  I would suggest doing this one at a time, as the flour “likes” to come off the wings if you put them all in at the same time and then “stir” them up… this won’t work.  A good method is to use tongs to dip them back in, and pull them back out, gently. Repeat this process with all your wings.

BBQ Chicken Wings - Foodies Gone Real

(The picture above is WITHOUT the third coat of BBQ sauce.  I simply ran out.  But seriously, you can’t go wrong making these saucy!)

And serve! Viola! And, if you’re feeling so inclined, celebrate with a chicken dance. :)

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